Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Dim Dim

The video cenference we had with Ellen was a new experience for me. Video conferencing is not part of my organisation's culture - the technology is costly and the NHS is not known for spending in this area unless absolutely necessary! I linked in from home, as did Jo - while Maggie, Cindy and Ellen were in the classroom.

Dim Dim was free to use (although limited in terms of how many people could take part), and could help when I need to communicate with my colleagues in Abingdon. It's not always possible to get together due to pressures of work, and this might be a sensible compromise.

On the negative side, the sound wasn't great, and it took us a while to all get the technology up an running. There was also a bit of a time delay and we kept speaking over one another. I'm not sure that my colleagues who are technology averse would be entirely happy with using this methos of communication.

It did help that Ellen had obviously used Dim Dim before and was able to guide us through the process.

Something to think about.


When I started this module, I was already pretty comfortable with Excel, Publisher and Access as I've used them before, but I really knew very little about Web 2.0 technology and what's available. I plan on using Publisher to create the team newsletter, and if I hadn't studied this module I would have probably have just emailed my colleagues for their input. That's far from satisfactory though, as I would have ended up with lots of versions of the newsletter floating about. Instead, I'm hoping that my employer will consider agreeing to me using something like Sharepoint, Google Docs, or just an internal wiki. Collaboration will be easier and communication smoother.

When I began, I wasn't clear at all how this module would benefit my working practice, but it's actually made me think more broadly and look at why things are done the way they are. My organisation has a very definite culture - it's quite hierarchical, and I think there is a danger of doing things in a particular way because that's how things have been done historically.

One aspect which I will have to consider when weighing up the available technology, is how easy it is to use. Many of the in-house software packages which my employers have introduced assume a certain level of IT knowledge. The company has a 'paperless office' policy, and many of my colleagues who had not previously needed to use a pc are now having to record all their activity electronically. This has proved incredibly stressful for some. If my employers decide to start using some of the Web 2.0 packages, then they will need to consider the implications in terms of staff training.

Report topic

The organisation I work for is split across seven different geographical locations, which makes communication difficult. It is further complicated by the fact that some of the team work from bases which are on the County Council IT network, while the remainder use the Primary Care Trust IT network. Unfortunately, the two don't link up.

I will shortly be producing a team newsletter and will need to collaborate with colleagues across the county. My report will consider whether any of the current Web 2.0 technologies could be helpful, and if so, will my employer view any of them as a viable proposition.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Putting it all together

Unfortunately I'm way behind with this assignment as I've been unwell for the past couple of months, but I'm on the case again now and have been doing lots of reading around Web 2.0 technology.

Initially, I found this module quite disjointed: Excel / Access were taught by one tutor and Web 2.0 by another. The tutors were teaching quite different subjects in very different ways, and I found it hard to put the two topics together as one whole.

Having done more preparation for this assignment, I can now see how the two might link together. I occasionally have to produce reports for work, and can see that being able to collate data in a spreadsheet or database could support that.

I had never considered 'social media' packages as valid workplace tools before starting this assignment. I have had to think more laterally about how I communicate with my colleagues and have had discussions at work about introducing a wiki for the administrators to use when collaborating on projects. Unfortunately, I am employed by two public service organisations, both of whom have rigid policies regarding the use of technology in the workplace, and it may be a lengthy process to get approval.

Wikis in plain English, and Google Docs in plain English

Monday, 1 March 2010


Of course the other big plus with Google Docs is that as it's web-based it can be accessed from any computer. That will be a great selling point when I'm trying to sell it to my manager - AES staff work on different networks which don't communicate, and we generally have to resort to emails. We are also geographically separate, so Google Docs and Google spreadsheets could be a major help.

I'm focusing my report on making communication between the administrators more efficient, but find I keep thinking of all the other ways that technology could be used to improve working practices at AES. Lets hope my enthusiasm continues once the module is over!


I'm having trouble finding a way to get round the confidentiality issue. Much of my role involves dealing with client information, which has to remain within the security of the council and PCT firewalls. I am going to be creating the first AES Newsletter shortly though, and have been considering the use of internet technology. There won't be any confidential information in the newsletter, which gives me more scope. Staff across the county will be asked to contribute articles and updates, so Google Docs might prove a very useful collaborative tool.